How To Safely Integrate Formula Into Your Baby’s Diet

How To Safely Integrate Formula Into Your Baby’s Diet

There is a big push these days to encourage “breast is best” and support moms everywhere in their breastfeeding journeys. That said, breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone and not all moms can perfectly make breast milk. It’s common to have problems with supply, a preterm infant who won’t latch, or for a mom to just not be into breastfeeding. And that’s okay. In our opinion, FED is best! For infants who haven’t been on formula since birth, there are a number of ways to safely introduce formula to your baby. We will assume that your baby is able to drink from a bottle. (For issues with bottles, there’s an entirely different realm of advice and a safe way to introduce the bottle.)

Evaluate why you’re making the switch to formula

Is it because your baby has terrible gas from your breast milk no matter what you eat? Are you switching because pumping was horrible? Does your baby have a milk protein intolerance or lactose sensitivity?

The reason you are switching from breast milk to formula will determine how and why you make that switch. If your child has an allergy to something you eat or has a protein intolerance, you need to contact your doctor and see if it is safer for you to gradually wean off breast milk or immediately stop it all together. If your child has mild gas or you are switching for more benign reasons, it’s a better idea to do a gradual wean.

How to do gradually wean

Ideally, it’s best to take 3-4 weeks to switch from 100% breast milk to 100% formula. It’s a really simple process: each week, you introduce a slightly higher ratio of formula to breast milk. In other words:

Week 1: 1 part formula to 3 parts breast milk

Week 2: 2 parts formula to 2 parts breast milk

Week 3: 3 parts formula to 1 part breast milk

Week 4: All formula!

What’s normal as the change occurs?

A slight change in bowel movement color, consistency, and habits is normal and expected. When it comes to color, breast milk poops tend to be more yellow in coloring while formula poops can tend toward a tan hue. The consistency might also change, either temporarily during the adjustment to the new diet or for the duration your child drinks formula.

That consistency change may then affect the frequency of bowel movements. A child who was passing one stool per day on breast milk may have two per day on formula, or vice versa.  (Ah, the glamour of parenthood!)

When it’s time to change the plan

There are a couple signs that the changeover is not going as well as planned, and that’s when you might have to change tactics. If your baby has any of the following symptoms, consider regressing a week in the plan above, switching formula types, or seeking medical advice:

  • frothy or green stools
  • stools that contain blood
  • more than 10 loose stools per day
  • baby KNOWS formula is in there and refuses to drink it

There are a few basic adjustments for the plan above, such as slowing down the transition even further over two months or more, but it’s best to seek further advice if you’re struggling. If this whole process is making you feel overwhelmed, you should ask for more support. Everyone needs a village- could be yours and help ensure your baby’s nutrition needs are on track.

We Suggest: How to Tell If Your Baby Has a Milk Allergy

How To Safely Integrate Formula Into Your Baby’s Diet

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